For the third time in three years, the Los Angeles Dodgers are heading to the NLCS. After losing to the Cubs in 2016 and the Dodgers finally exorcizing their demons in 2017, only to lose to the Houston Astros in 6 games.
Well, they’re either gluttons for punishment or they mean business this time around
The 2018 Season didn’t start off the way most Dodger fans would have hoped. After beginning the season 12-16, LA was dealt what would seem like a fatal blow, when Corey Seager announced he’d be having season-ending Tommy John Surgery.
But when God gives your All-Star shortstop an elbow injury, he also makes Baltimore the worst at baseball.
Like, really bad.
The Manny Machado trade was a huge moment in the 2018 season, mainly because we all knew it was coming. The Orioles were always going to be god awful, and with all that money tied up in the “Water World” of a baseball player that is Chris Davis, it was clear they would part with the third basemen turned shortstop.
The Dodgers were willing to pay the price for the prettiest jewel in the land. The cost for Machado’s services? Five players, Yusniel Diaz (LA’s #4 ranked prospect), Rylan Bannon (LA’s #27 prospect), and Dean Kremer (LA’s #28 prospect), Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera, as confirmed by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.
The Dodgers would also go on to add All-Star second baseman Brian Dozier at the deadline creating an All-Star lineup, much like the Golden State Warriors to the north.
On the mound, the Dodgers had a rarity in the recent history; Clayton Kershaw wasn’t the most dominant pitcher. Walker Buehler, who would win the NL Rookie of the Year if it weren’t for Ronald Acuña, Jr. amazing year.
Buehler started 23 games this season, posting a 2.62 ERA, a 0.961 WHIP, and owns a 9.9 K/9. To say the rookie has been anything but dominant is an understatement. When Kershaw was on the DL, Buehler was there to pick up the slack. Finally, someone to take the weight of this pitching staff off the shoulders of Kershaw.
Another surprise this season came from Max Muncy. After being released by the Athletics before the 2017 Season, the Dodgers offered Muncy a minor league deal. While with the Oklahoma City Dodgers, Muncy hit .309 with 12 homers in 2017.
So it’s pretty damn obvious that Muncy’s 35 home runs and 79 RBIs are a giant step up from his previous year in the minors. The ceiling is now higher than ever for the first baseman, but is it enough to move Bellinger back into the outfield.
Matt Kemp was also a pleasant surprise for LA. After coming their way via a contract dump that included Scott Kazmir and Adrian Gonzalez, Kemp seemed to be an afterthought. With the young outfield finally coming to fruition, why would you bring in Kemp who has massively
Kemp has instead provided a big bat in big moments, as well as protection in the lineup for some of LA’s hottest hitters. Kemp’s .290 average gives the Dodgers consistency whether it’s in the lineup or off the bench. Matt Kemp’s the perfect bench player for this squad, even if he costs almost $20 million a year.
It’s no surprise the Dodgers made quick work of the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS. If there’s one thing they have plenty of its experience. 2018 was their 6th straight division title, and this NLCS will be their 4th in that span. The Dodgers have been in this position. They train for it. They dream of it. Hell, they LIVE for it. If there’s one thing that the Dodgers have in spares it’s experience.
And yet, here they are again. Ready to take on another NLCS.